MALE, March 14 (Xinhua) -- The Maldivian government said Thursday that China had topped the list of tourist arrivals to the island nation after the market had seen a rapid growth since 2009, local press reported.
Maldivian Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb Gafoor was quoted by local media as saying that with the increasing numbers, more Chinese staff were now being recruited to work at the resorts in Maldives and Chinese restaurants were being set up to cater for the guests.
Gafoor further called on the Sri Lankan government to join together with the island nation and promote joint packages to the Chinese as Sri Lanka has more to offer than beaches.
Gafoor's comments comes amidst calls for a tourism boycott of the Maldives have exploded across Chinese social media networks, after allegations of discrimination against Chinese tourists at one resort became widely circulated.
According to Maldivian media reports, Chinese nationals employed at one of the tourism resorts in the Maldives posted allegations on a Chinese media forum earlier this month stating that guests who were arriving from the country were receiving inferior treatment to Europeans despite paying the same prices.
However, the allegations have been dismissed by the Maldivian government who has stated that the Chinese market was very important for the island nation and the tourism industry would continue to offer high quality service to the Chinese tourists.
Meanwhile, Gafoor said that with the dawn of peace in Sri Lanka, the Maldives will soon be launching a cruise ship service between Male and Colombo and it is likely to commence operations in December.
Gafoor further called on the Sri Lankan government to work together with the Maldives in capturing potential markets as it would be mutually beneficial for both countries in a highly competitive market.